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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Coal-burning energy company demands more regulation

Baltimore company Constellation Energy has retrofitted two coal-burning power plants in anticipation of new EPA emissions laws. Now a lawsuit has delayed the new regulations from being enacted, and Constellation is pissed; if they're going to shell out $885 million to be in compliance, by god everyone else should have to, too. So they're flipping a Uie from usual energy company behavior, and agitating for stricter rules. The new technology allows Constellation's plants to produce 90 percent less nitrogen oxide and 95 percent less sulfur, plus way less of all the other gross stuff too. But it also takes more …

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Mmm, vegan beefcake

There are vegan bodybuilders. Yes, this is going to blow the minds of people who look at vegetarians blankly and ask, "But how do you get enough protein?" A New York Times trend piece (it's in the Sports section! That makes it more real than a trend piece in the Style section) features a few, plus reports that while "there is little official data on competitive bodybuilders who are vegan," a website called veganbodybuilding.com "has more than 5,000 registered users."   The article does basically ask, "But how do they get enough protein?" The answer is: Vegan bodybuilders do have …

Read more: Food, Living

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St. Louis Zoo builds love hotel for salamanders

Ozark hellbenders, aka "snot otters" and "lasagna sides," are among the world's largest and least cute salamanders. Looking at them, it’s probably not a big surprise that they’re having a hard time breeding -- although inexplicably, scientists think it’s NOT because of their pancake heads or beady little eyes, but some problem in the natural environment. Now that there are fewer than 600 hellbenders left in Ozark rivers, scientists at the Saint Louis Zoo decided to step in and create a place for the salamanders to get it on. The salamanders' love nest is a simulated river built to bring …

Read more: Animals

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Critical List: Toxic chemicals on the rise; baby seals in trouble

The EPA may retest water in Dimock, Pa., where residents have linked polluted water to fracking operations. In its first round of testing the town's water, the EPA declared it safe. GM is fixing up the Volt in order to avoid in real-life battery fires like the ones that started during testing. As winter sea ice disappears in the Arctic, fewer baby harp seals are making it. The amount of toxic chemicals shunted into the environment went up 16 percent between 2009 and 2010, according a new EPA report. The president of the Maldives has a message for Australia: The …

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Zombie bees!

We've been concerned for a while about colony collapse disorder, which has been decimating honeybee populations. The disorder is of uncertain origin, though there's some evidence linking it to pesticides; there's also evidence for viruses, fungi, and mites, or maybe it's all of them. And now scientists are investigating the possibility that it's caused by parasitic flies turning bees into zombies. The fly in question, Apocephalus borealis, was known to parasitize wasps but not honeybees. Now, though, it appears that the parasite affects honeybees, with basically the same mechanism: It climbs into their stomachs and controls their brains. The parasitic fly …

Read more: Animals

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FDA regulates 0.3 percent of antibiotics in livestock

So if you were the FDA, and you wanted to regulate the feeding of antibiotics to livestock -- which you don't, but bear with me -- there would be a couple of ways you could go. You could regulate the ones that are the most widespread and cause the most problems. Or you could regulate the ones that a tiny and decreasing number of people use in the first place. The second one is less effective, but it's easier! So that's what the FDA is doing. The agency has announced that it will ban the agricultural use of cephalosporins, a …

Read more: Factory Farms, Food

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The world’s tallest treehouse

The Minister's House in Crossville, Tenn., is 10 STORIES HIGH, over 97 feet tall, and supported by six full-grown oak trees. If you're a total purist about your treehouses and believe they need to be entirely off the ground and supported only by limbs, then this doesn't qualify, but screw you because it's awesome.  You can see more photos here and here, and you know that you want to.

Read more: Green Home, Living

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Pre-fab yurt is the FEMA trailer of our post-optimism future

Homelessness, extreme weather, civil unrest -- the 21st century is going to give us a lot of reasons to house people as cheaply as possible. So hobbyist Malcom White came up with a way to create a 118-square-foot "yurt" that can be prefabricated and then transported via flatbed truck to wherever it's needed. Total cost? $300 to $400, or one quarter-ounce gold dubloon once the United States of America has atomized into regional duchies all paying tribute to whichever Paul is president/king in 2018.

Read more: Cities, Green Home, Living

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Climate change bumps prices at Starbucks

Crap weather means that the wholesale price of arabica beans is at a 14-year high of $3.09 per pound, and coffee distributors are blaming climate change, reports the nifty new you-should-be-reading-it Bloomberg sustainability channel. “Climate changes and market fundamentals will maintain prices in 2012, but we will continue to be tied to the developments of the euro-zone crisis and its consequences to the global economy,” [a Brazil-based] broker said in a report e-mailed yesterday. In an announcement that couldn't possibly be related, Starbucks declared that the price of its lattes is going up by 10 cents, the result of an …

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Embattled teen genius actually better, smarter than most people

Back in August, the Internet discovered Aidan Dwyer, a 13-year-old go-getter who worked out a way to make solar panels more efficient. Because nobody likes a 13-year-old go getter, the Internet basically told him NO YOU'RE WRONG. Okay, so he should have measured power instead of voltage when testing his solar panel design. But it turns out Dwyer is totally getting the last laugh here, and is proving that nerdy 13-year-old go-getters actually are just better at life than most people on the Internet. Dwyer's spoken at PopTech's annual innovation conference and is scheduled to speak at the World Future …